“I just happen to be lesbian…” GeEkgiRL interview

Photograph of Fi from GeEkgiRL by Tamzin Forster September 1st, 2008

She looks like a younger, edgier Jodie Foster. She sings, shouts and struts in a cowboy hat. She’s headlined both London Pride and Manchester Pride this summer.

But what’s the story with the photo negative lampshades? And is it true that she used to play in Tegan and Sara? We talked to Fi from GeEkgiRL at Manchester Pride and found out…

Hey Fi, thanks for chatting to us. First off, can you explain who’s in GeEkgiRL?
There’s 3 of us in the band, me and 2 guys. We have acoustic guitar and sometimes piano, bass with lots of effects, and drums.

How would you describe your sound?
It’s something like punk-rock-pop. There’s also a bit of country, funk and grunge in there too.

Tell us about your musical influences.
I like Radio 2 stuff and things like Carly Simon. Also lot of female artists, acoustic stuff, and people like the Violent Femmes and PJ Harvey. The guys are far more eclectic. They’re a bit more into indie music. It’s good, because our musical tastes are so varied we end up producing music that people don’t know how to pigeonhole.

Most people compare us to PJ Harvey. It’s nice, but it’s a little bit short-sighted. People just see a girl with a guitar.

People are lazy.
Yeah! And I shout sometimes, and I sing about heartbreak, so people put me in that category.

I’ve been compared to some really strange people. There was a really good one, she was black soul singer and I really didn’t see the connection… who was it… it was Joan Armatrading, that’s right. And I don’t see that in the music that we’re playing, but apparently it was about my voice.

I’ve also been compared to Nico from the Velvet Underground and Patti Smith.

What bands are you into at the moment?
I tend not to be into much modern music, but recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Kat Frankie, she’s an Australian-German singer songwriter, and her stuff is quite soulful and dark.

Oh and Tegan and Sara, I love Tegan and Sara. How could I not? [laughs] Before I knew they were twins and gay and gorgeous I still liked their music.

We played a gig called ‘an L of a tribute’ and I did Tegan and Sara with my sound engineer. But they wanted me to be Sharleen Spitari.

Well you’ve kind of got the hair…
Yeah, alright, [pulls a face] but she’s not even gay though… I said I didn’t want to be her.

But instead you were Tegan and Sara?
I was Tegan. We actually did all Tegan songs, so I did all the singing. We wanted to do Superstar, cos they never play that…

I don’t think they’re allowed.
You don’t think they’re allowed to?

I think it’s to do with some kind of fall-out with their producer. Everyone’s always screaming it at the gigs, but supposedly they can’t play it.
Fair enough. Maybe they should say that, then the fans would get behind them, instead of saying ‘why don’t you play it?’

There’s a bit of a Tegan and Sara element to the content of your songs. It’s a bit like ‘Tegan and Sara… but a bit more bitter’
Yeah! Sara writes really happy nice poppy songs, and Tegan writes really odd weird, fucked up songs. I guess we’re a little bit more in the middle. Yeah… I get it all out in songs.

Is it therapy?
Great therapy! And I get paid for it.

How long has GeEkgiRL been going?
About 5 years. Before doing this I was working as an actor, in London. But because I’m 5’3” I was always getting cast as androgenous children or Peter Pan. I was playing music at the same time, and that was going well, so I decided to go for it properly.

Where did the name come from?
I got called ‘geek girl’ after making some lampshades from film negatives, and I thought it would  be good as a name for some gigs I was doing with someone else. I texted the girl I was doing the gigs with, and we decided to keep the stupid text spelling I’d accidentally used. It just stuck. We did think about changing the name later on, but it’s really hard to come up with new names!

How do you feel about the whole ‘gay band’ thing? I know some gay musicians aren’t entirely comfortable with being labelled that.
You can label us all you want. The fans decide what you are, and it doesn’t matter what you say about that to be honest. We’re not a gay band, there are 2 straight men in the band, and I just happen to be lesbian.

I know why we have a gay following, because we’re very active on the scene, and we’re definitely a gay-friendly band. But what makes you a gay band? Because there are straight bands out there that gay people flock to as well. It’s about how other people define you.

I would never not be out, and I would  never not play Pride if I was asked. I feel quite strongly about it – I would never hide what I am. They guys complain that they never get to pull because people think they’re gay!

I think people appreciate seeing someone who is happy with their sexuality, and don’t have an issue with it. Especially people who are maybe younger as well. It’s nice to see people who are ok with it, who can be role models.
Yeah yeah. I would never consider myself a role model, but if there are some young kids out there who look at me and think ‘actually it’s ok. Look at her she’s doing it, I could do the same thing’ then that’s great. I hope that wouldn’t just be for gay kids either.

Also because you’re a woman in a very male-dominated industry.
Absolutely. I know that when I was a kid growing up there were no gay artists at all, or they were all male, and it was presumed that they were gay because they were flamboyant. I didn’t even know about kd lang.

I don’t know if it’s harder to get into the music industry when you’re already out, or whether you get into it and say ‘by the way, I’m gay’. But then you’ve got people like Beth Ditto out there, and she’s always been loudmouthed about it!

You’ve played other Prides haven’t you.
Yeah we played London, at the Trafalgar Square stage and the women’s stage. It was awesome. There were thousands of people, my head was up there on the screen, as big as a house – it was all a bit weird. This is the fourth time we’ve played Manchester, and we’ve also Oldham Pride and South Yorkshire Pride.

What are your plans for the future?
Keep doing it, get bigger and better gigs. We have our own label that we release our own stuff on. I’m toying with going over to New York too. The gay scene here is really supportive of us, but we’re not very Radio 1 friendly. I think we’d have a lot more appeal in America.

Many thanks Fi.

For more on GeEkgiRL check www.thegeekgirl.co.uk and www.myspace.com/geekgirltunes

 comments

  • Actually the reason they don’t play Superstar is because Tegan really hates it. She wrote about it in her blog when I’ll Take The Blame came out a couple months ago. They never play songs that they personally don’t like anymore. For instance, Sara won’t play Days and Days. There could have been a fall out, but that’s the reason she gave the fans.

    Canada ∼ September 1st, 2008 4:45 pm
  • Someone should get GeEkgiRL over to Dublin Pride!! Pretty please?!

    Julie ∼ September 1st, 2008 10:03 pm
  • Well it’s was discussed a couple of years back but never happened, badger the organisers, I know they’d be willing!

    Ant
    (GG online pr)

    Ant ∼ September 2nd, 2008 8:33 pm
  • Is Fi single?? ;)

    Mags ∼ September 15th, 2008 12:00 pm

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